Every time Bishop Manogue girls basketball stretched its lead to near double digits, the Douglas High girls came clawing back in Friday night’s Class 5A regional semifinal.
However, the Miners were able to maintain enough of an edge to pull out a 56-52 win over the Tigers, bringing Douglas’ season to a close.
“The girls were just battling every possession. They were picking each other up here tonight,” said Douglas High head coach Jason Carter. “A fun game to coach. A fun game to remember how much they’ve meant to the program.”
No. 2 Bishop Manogue will move on to play No. 1 Reno Saturday at 4 p.m. at Spanish Springs in the regional final.
The climb back
Douglas trailed 20-9 after the opening quarter in which Bishop Manogue’s two hottest shooters got rolling.
For a Tiger team knowing it was on the brink of elimination, it was survival at all costs.
Friday night, Douglas hit eight 3-pointers tying a season-high in triples made.
It was an avenue the Tigers had to use to keep pace with Miner freshman Fa’anaetaua Puloka (#55), who had 18 points at the half before ending the night with 25.
Junior forward Milasarai Tau (#23) was nearly as lights out from the floor, scoring 21 points for Bishop Manogue in the semifinal. Only two other Miners found the score sheet Friday night.
McKenzie Main started the come back efforts in the second quarter, where she scored eight points on a pair of 3-pointers.
“Kenzie had a great game. I thought Talia (Tretton) did a great job on the inside,” said Carter. “I thought we did a much better job in the second half containing the (Miners’) freshman.”
The Tigers got within six at the intermission, but trailed 44-35 with just over a minute to play in the third quarter.
Out of a timeout, Aleeah Weaver put together one of her patented euro-step moves to cut the gap to seven.
Addy Doerr pulled down one of her four offensive rebounds on the final possession of the quarter and fed Zora Simpson for a triple from the corner in front of the Tiger bench.
Despite the Tigers’ best efforts, Puloka buried a triple from the wing after a Douglas turnover to start the fourth.
Logan Karwoski responded with three points of her own and Weaver cut it to three, 47-44, after hitting a free throw following a Doerr steal.
Simpson cut it to two, 49-47, on a wing three before Weaver caught a kickout pass from Sky Rasmussen for another bucket from beyond the arc.
Simpson finished the night with a team-high 16 points.
With 4:31 remaining, all of a sudden Douglas was within one, trailing 51-50.
Despite having chances to tie or jump in front, the Miners were able to stave off elimination, closing out the game with free throws and defensive stops.
“It was right there. A couple shots didn’t fall,” said Carter. “I think two pretty evenly matched teams and unfortunately someone is going to walk away a loser. Hats off to them. They played a great game.”
(Douglas High's McKenzie Main shoots a 3-pointer Friday night at Bishop Manogue in the Class 5A North regional semifinals. Main scored eight points in the second quarter of the Tigers' season-ending loss. / Ron Harpin)
Condensing a season
Douglas improved dramatically as the season went on.
For a team that finished as the Class 5A regional runner-up last season, the 2022-23 winter started slowly as the Tigers drug themselves out to a 2-5 start.
From that point on, Douglas went 12-5 before falling in the regional semifinal Friday night.
“The growth that they’ve made has been exponential throughout the course of the season. Of course, we are losing some seniors, but what we have coming back they are going to be a seasoned team,” said Carter. “Hopefully that will help propel them over the top, playing in close games like this.”
In the Tigers’ first meeting with Bishop Manogue (January 5), the Miners were able to run away with a 62-35 win.
The next time they faced off, Douglas bested the Bishop Manogue, 50-45.
Friday, two possessions were the difference in the final outcome.
Douglas will lose six seniors to graduation in the spring between Doerr, Gabrielle Wallace, Abigail Girdner, Bre Williams, Riley Hoffman and Camden Miller.